THE PRACTICAL GUIDE TO EXCEPTIONAL LIVING IS A MUST READ FOR ANYONE LOOKING FOR EASY TO USE IDEAS TO IMPROVE THEIR LIFE ON ANY LEVEL Forget the old work ethic of putting in 60-80 hour weeks and not having a life outside of your work and office. Stop being a victim of email, cell phone, and information overload. Whether your dream is more time with your family, better health, more money or simply more control over your life, the information inside will show you the way. This simple 132 page guide teaches: - How Jim went from a stressed out, neurotic business owner who never left his business, to 10 weeks off a year. He took 40 days off in a row and only called the office twice! - Learn how to effectively manage your time and the ever invasive email, voicemail and 24 hour accessibility we all suffer from. - Discover and create Your Ultimate Life Experience(TM) and how to design your life for the realization of that dream. - How to regain your health and energy and get to your ideal weight by changing just a few things in your life. How I got my cholesterol from 277 to 217 naturally. - Learn about The Money Flow Rules(TM) and The Financial Stability Table(TM) and gain control over your finances and create lasting wealth. This book provides easy to understand and easy to use concepts that can be put to use immediately. From the house mom to the executive and from the student to the small business owner, anyone can read this book and start learning today.
THE PRACTICAL GUIDE TO EXCEPTIONAL LIVING Creating Living THE Life OF Your Dreams JIM GARLAND The Practical Guide To Exceptional Living Creating and Living the Life of Your Dreams Copyright © 2010 Jim Garland. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical or electronic, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author or publisher (except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages and/or short brief video clips in a review.) Disclaimer: The Publisher and the Author make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this work and speciﬁcally disclaim all warranties, including without limitation warranties of ﬁtness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales or promotional materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for every situation. This work is sold with the understanding that the Publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional services. If professional assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. Neither the Publisher nor the Author shall be liable for damages arising herefrom. The fact that an organization or website is referred to in this work as a citation and/or a potential source of further information does not mean that the Author or the Publisher endorses the information the organization or website may provide or recommendations it may make. Further, readers should be aware that internet websites listed in this work may have changed or disappeared between when this work was written and when it is read. Cover Design by: Rachel Lopez Rachel@r2cdesign ISBN 978-1-60037-716-7 Library of Congress Control Number: 2009936846 Morgan James Publishing, LLC 1225 Franklin Ave., STE 325 Garden City, NY 11530-1693 Toll Free 800-485-4943 www.MorganJamesPublishing.com In an effort to support local communities, raise awareness and funds, Morgan James Publishing donates one percent of all book sales for the life of each book to Habitat for Humanity. Get involved today, visit www.HelpHabitatForHumanity.org. Dedication I dedicate this book to my wife Carrie and our four wonderful children Bayley, Ellie, Jack, and Benjamin. Carrie has been the love of my life since high school. She is the woman who has made me the man I am today, my soul mate and truly my best friend. She is the person who brings me my greatest happiness and joy. Carrie’s love and support are the only reason that this book became a reality. Her expe- rience in journalism helped as well, as she was my rst (and toughest) editor! She is the best mother a child and husband could ever imagine - she is patient, fun, energetic, kind, and adventurous. I love you. Bayley, you have been such a delight since the day you were born that we decided to have three more kids! Your great a itude, sense of humor and smarts are inspirational. I love you and cherish all of the joy you have brought to mommy and me. Ellie, watching you grow up has brought more joy to my life than you will ever know. You are spunky, funny, and smart as a whip and I adore you for that. I love you and will forever hold onto the excitement you have given mommy and me. Jack, it is a blessing to have you as my son. Your varied interests amaze me and your sense of humor makes me laugh until I can’t breathe. I love you and cherish the conversations, the fun and the laughter you bring to mommy and me. -v- Benjamin, you are a delight to behold, with a twinkle in your eye and a spring in your step. Jimmy Bu et and Bob Marley would be proud to hear you sing along to any of their songs. I love you to the moon and back and thank you for the happiness you bring mommy and me. I also dedicate this book to my late mom (Dickey), my late Pop (Jake), my late sister (Karen), my brother Joe and my sisters Leslie and Felicia. I have shared more joy, laugh- ter and adventure with all of you than the law should allow. Your support of my crazy ideas has given me the strength I have found when the odds have been against me. You have all brought love, passion and excitement to my life. The adven- tures we shared as children - camping, shing, going to the beach, Uncle Tommy’s, traveling in an RV, and simply play- ing together - are etched in my memory forever. The pleasure of sharing these things with you makes me the luckiest guy in the world. With all of my love, I thank you. - vi - Acknowledgements I wish to acknowledge and thank the following people for giving me the strength, resources and passion for shaping my life and bringing this book to reality: – Carrie, Bayley, Ellie, Jack and Benjamin, for the unbelievable patience, help, ideas and strength you have provided for me on this journey. – PJ Maher, Sharp Details, Inc. Operations Manager, for teaching me to simplify, to look at the big picture, to be patient and think things through before making a snap judgment or decision. You have allowed me to work on my strengths and grow the business while you use your strengths to handle the day-to-day details and re ne our operating systems. You have a management team that would make Warren Bu et proud. You have given me the freedom to develop relationships with our clients and thereby exceed our business goals. – Christina Miller, Sharp Details, Inc. O ce Operations Guru, for organizing and simplifying what was chaos and for keeping my “shoot from the hip style” in check. If I need something you have it, if - vii - I have lost something you nd it and if it is technical you guide me through it. You manage to keep our accounts receivable on time and up-to-date which is the life blood of our business. You are the best! – Tom Dula, Sharp Details, Inc. CFO, for your passion and care for our business, your ability to turn the nancially complex into something I understand and your friendship. Thank you for steering us in the right direction and for helping me turn Sharp Details into a nancially sound and pro table business. – Ed Behling, Cindy Bailey, Janet Carbajal, Brian Dower, Colleen Mascara, Eric Pulling, Mike Vinaya, Will Zimdars, Sharp Details, Inc. Management Team, your leadership ability, professionalism, customer service, a ention to detail, hard work, countless hours, patience, creativity and dedication continue to exceed what I ever thought imaginable. It is what you do, day in and day out that has allowed our company to grow and serve so many in our wonderful industry. It is an honor and a privilege to share this with you. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank the Lord for bringing you to Sharp Details, Inc. Your loyalty and friendship mean the world to me. – The Sharp Details, Inc. Service Technicians, thanks to the men and women who keep our customers happy, our managers sane and the nuts and bolts of the business running all day, every day. Your dedication, - viii - hard work and loyalty are not always praised but are always appreciated. Thank you, Gracias! – Ann McIndoo, for your, ideas, guidance, resources, and business process. Your ability to take my mixed- up, disorganized, and rambling ideas and concepts and help me turn them into a book has been amazing. – David Farber, of Pa on and Boggs, LLP, for your tenacity, professionalism, wit and for guiding me through one of the toughest periods of my business career. – Sharp Details, Inc.’s clients and friends, for your dedication, continued business and friendship. A special thanks to Gene Condreras of Panorama Flight Service for encouraging me to branch out from my core business. You are the greatest clients in the world. I have made more lifelong friends in this industry than I ever could have imagined. The work we all do is challenging, demanding and sometimes unforgiving and we love it! My heartfelt thanks to all of you. Special thanks to Joe Tate, who gave me the opportunity to get into this great industry and to Bill Maynard, who rst taught me to clean an aircra ! – Carroll and Pa y Owens, for never doubting me when I wanted to marry your daughter and promised to take good care of her, and for always making me feel part of the family. Your support is a blessing. - ix - – My Friends from Bush Hill Elementary, Thomas Edison High School, Radford University, New River Valley and Radford Rugby clubs, to Phi Sigma Kappa, the Chart House, Barnacle Jim’s Boat Service, Sharp Details, Inc., Rehoboth, St Aidan’s, St John’s, Riverside Gardens, Grace Episcopal (Jim, Brian, Tony, Phil, Bob, Ken and all of your lovely brides), Belle Haven, Sur ng (Ross and Dave) and beyond. I thank you all for making me laugh so hard that my stomach is sore the next day, giving me memories that will be with me forever, providing me with inspiration and guidance, causing me to raise my standards, improve my sur ng and my golf game and most of all for just being good friends that I can count on for the rest of my life. You guys and gals are the greatest friends I could ever ask for! -x- Contents Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Chapter One Are You Living the Life of Your Dreams? . . . . . . . . . .5 Chapter Two Your Health and Longevity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25 Chapter Three The Power of Gratitude and Faith. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 Chapter Four A itude and the Law of A raction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61 Chapter Five The Money Dance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .77 Chapter Six The Life of Your Dreams: Se ing and Reaching Your Goals . . . . . . . . . .105 Chapter Seven Proof and Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .123 Resource Guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .131 - xi - Introduction I always thought I was someone who tried to strive for excel- lence in my life. The problem was I never really had the disci- pline to make the changes that would bring about that excel- lence. In high school, I played football and did okay, but during the o -season I was not dedicated to staying in shape. Instead of striving for excellence, I would just hang out with my bud- dies. We had fun, but none of us thought about doing what it would take to play sports beyond high school. The same was true with my study habits. I could do well, but instead of striving for excellence I cruised through with a low B average and never really thought much about it. As I moved on to college, things did not change. I a ended Radford University in Radford, Virginia from the fall of 1986 until my graduation in the spring of 1990. I had fun, made terri c life- long friends, played rugby, and coasted through with a C aver- age. I will never forget the frustration of my math economics professor, Dr. Kasturi. I was an economics major and needed a C in his class in order to graduate. We had two tests: the mid- term and the nal. I bombed the midterm with a 34 (yes, out of 100). Before the nal, several of us got together and studied around the clock. A er the nal, I went to Dr. Kasturi’s o ce to see if I was going to be able to graduate. In his classic Indian accent he said, “Mr. Garland, I do not understand people like you. You have the ability to do so well, but it is like you do not -1- Introduction care. You got a 105 on the nal—the highest grade in the class. Your average is a 69.9 and I will give you a C.” I was thrilled. He was not. He basically posed the question, “Why are you such an underachiever?” At that moment, I realized I had not been striving for excellence but se ling for mediocrity. I realized that although I had eeting thoughts of success I had always accepted mediocrity as the norm. That was a turning point in my life. Like many of you, I wanted a life of joy, success, loving relationships, nancial stability, adventure and excitement. Since then I have had several de ning moments in my life, turning points, that caused me to look at where I was and make the decision to turn it up a notch. What will be the de ning moment in your life? When will you no longer se le for mediocrity? When are you go- ing to decide to start designing the life of your dreams? Is now the time? Since that time with Dr. Kasturi, more than 20 years ago, I have focused much of my energy on studying what ac- tions people take who truly create the lives that they want— people who truly strive for excellence. Throughout this pro- cess, I have read hundreds of books, listened to countless hours of tapes and CDs, watched videos, a ended seminars, enrolled in classes for entrepreneurs, hired personal trainers and coaches and visited, analyzed and learned from count- less websites. As a result, I have purposely designed my life and my business to be exactly what I want it to be. Here are a few examples: – I married Carrie, my high school sweetheart and the woman of my dreams. -2- e Practical Guide To Exceptional Living – We have been blessed with four beautiful children: Bayley, Ellie, Jack and Benjamin. – Our children a end schools that we love. – We live in a wonderful house in a beautiful neigh- borhood. – I have grown my business, Sharp Details, Inc., from the trunk of my car (as a boat cleaning service) into a company that produces almost $4,000,000 in annual revenue, providing aircra detailing, clean- ing and support services, operates in eight di erent states with over 50 employees, and runs without my day-to-day involvement. – I work out regularly, enjoy great health, and can still t into the tuxedo I bought for my wedding 14 years ago! – I take 10 weeks of vacation per year (no contact at all with the o ce) and spend much of my time with my wife and kids. My aim in writing The Practical Guide to Excep- tional Living is to give you a simple book, a guide that can help you along the way. It is packed with ideas that will save you years of trial-and-error and gives you the tools and phi- losophy you need to begin your journey towards creating and living the life of your dreams. You can make the changes in your life you have always wanted to make, today … and I will show you how! Warm regards, Jim Garland -3- Chapter One Are You Living the Life of Your Dreams? “Go con dently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you have imagined.” Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American author, poet, and philosopher Are you living the life of your dreams? What would the life of your dreams look like? How would you envision it? Many people shy away from these questions because they are so direct; they really hit you in the gut and make you start to think and that is the idea. I want to get you thinking about what the an- swers to these very direct questions should be and how you would describe, in detail, the life of your dreams. You must know what you want and where you want to go. Answering these questions is where the journey begins. By the end of this book you will have developed a new strategy for how you look at life and a game plan for deliberately designing the life you desire on every level. The subjects on the following pages will help you de ne what it means to have a truly exceptional life. As you read, think about how these subjects relate to your daily life. -5- Are You Living the Life of Your Dreams? Time: Your Most Valuable Asset At the beginning of my business career, I was taught by my colleagues that working long, hard hours was not only necessary but was required as a means to success. It was almost like a badge of honor to work 80-90 hours per week. If you wanted to succeed you had to put in the hours at any cost and if you didn’t, you were not wor- thy. As I began my journey as a small business owner, I focused on two things: 1. Work as many hours as humanly possible 2. Accumulate as much money as humanly pos- sible As shallow as it seems, that was it. Work hard to make money. I was 21 and single and this seemed like a great philosophy. What it actually produced was a very tired body and mind, a business that could not be le for ve minutes without my hands in everything, a girlfriend, and family and friends who wanted to know why I worked so much. Unfortunately for me, I had put no value on time and measured my success by how many hours I worked. This is a sure formula for failure on every level and I was proving it to myself. As time went on and my business continued to grow, I realized more and more that the additional hours I was working were becoming less and less productive. It was at this point that I realized I had to let go of some of the responsibilities of the business and allow others to take charge. To delegate e ectively you need patience, trial and error with many di erent people and a will- ingness to understand that many mistakes will be made -6- e Practical Guide To Exceptional Living and corrected, along the way. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do; however, as months and years passed, I became more e ective at building busi- ness systems and designing clear divisions of author- ity and responsibility. My business continued to grow, I began to gain more and more control over my time and more of my employees improved their management and leadership skills. Thanks to delegating successfully, my philosophy and life have changed 180 degrees. I now believe that time is the most valuable commodity I have and how I spend it is paramount. I no longer work weekends or 80 hours a week. Don’t get me wrong, I could. I just have chosen not to, and with that choice have designed my business and my life so I control how I spend my time. How did I do it? How is this possible? I made a delib- erate decision to redesign my life and business. I have assembled an unbelievable team at my company, Sharp Details, Inc. and it is this team that has been built over many years, that has allowed me the bene t of spending my time as I choose. The amazing thing is that since I have set the busi- ness up in this way and delegated tasks I am not good at (in an e ort to achieve personal freedom) my business has improved tremendously. It runs more e ciently without my hands in everything, it provides jobs for more people, it serves our customers be er, and it gen- erates greater revenue than ever. I have nally begun to achieve true success. To me, that means having the ability to spend my time the way I want to spend it. This control over my time has allowed me the exibility to -7- Are You Living the Life of Your Dreams? spend valuable time with my wife Carrie, our children and at the same time, grow my company 30% per year over the last three years. It has provided me with the luxury of being able to pursue other interests includ- ing creating a foundation, starting a new company and writing this book. I also have plenty of opportunity for recreational activities I enjoy, such as traveling with my family and sur ng and gol ng with my buddies. The average person will spend 110,000 hours of their life on their career (commuting and working 50 hours per week for a 44 year career from the age of 21-65). This means you spend more time working and commuting than you will ever spend with your family. Is this what you want? Do you so love your job or your business that you would spend this much time at it, or do you need to make a change? Outside of work, the time you spend with others is another critical amount of time you should analyze. Who are you spending your time with? Do you hang out with people who support you and give you encouragement on a daily basis? Are they positive and fun? What about your loved ones? Most of us spend time planning for work, exercise, special events, dinner and a host of other things. How much time do you actively plan to spend with your loved ones or do they just get whatever time is le over? To design the life of your dreams, you must gain con- trol of your time. This is the rst step and here are six guidelines to help you get started. They will help you be- gin thinking about how you spend your time. Remember, your time is your most valuable asset and it is the biggest factor in designing the life of your dreams. -8- e Practical Guide To Exceptional Living 1. Start every day with a plan. I write my daily plan on an index card every night before I go to bed. This keeps you organized and on task. 2. Ask your workplace to o er you opportunities to work from home, or pay you for your results instead of your time. 3. Ask your workplace to o er you exible hours. Maybe you can go in early some days and late on others. 4. Explore opportunities/companies that o er jobs working from home utilizing today’s technol- ogy. 5. Manage how you communicate: – Turn o all email alerts on your computer and phone. – Put your phone on vibrate. – Put an auto response on your email le ing others know you will respond at certain times or days so they do not expect an im- mediate response. – Plan time with your spouse and kids rst, and then ll in around that. – Designate 1-2 days per week that you do not check email or work phone. – At dinners out, ball games, and special events leave your communication device in the car. 6. Before making commitments to others, ask these questions: Do I like being with this person? Do they make me feel good? Do we have fun togeth- er? If you answer “no” to any of these questions, rethink spending time with this person. If you -9- Are You Living the Life of Your Dreams? answer “no” and you are married to this person, get professional help! Life is too short to spend time feeling angst towards the person you have married. How is Your Health? Good health is essential for achieving and living a life that is full of joy and happiness. Good health will pro- vide you with the stamina to face life’s challenges, the energy to play, and the stamina to take a long walk. It will give you a mental awareness and strength that can only be discovered when you are in good shape. It will also give you the energy to balance your time between family, work, social commitments, and travel. Most of all, great health will provide you with longevity and ex- tra years that will allow you to more fully enjoy all of life’s pleasures. For any of you who have been overweight and then been disciplined enough to lose it and get in shape, you know there is no comparison between how you feel at your ideal weight and how you felt when you are heavy. Imagine yourself enjoying working out ve days per week, eating fruits and vegetables (colorful and vibrant), ge ing plenty of rest, reducing your stress and being your ideal body weight. Ladies, imagine ge ing into your size 6-8 jeans you haven’t worn since high school! Just the description of this makes you feel good. Now imagine yourself 30 pounds overweight, always tired, eating a regular diet of french fries, burgers and cookies (brown, bland, mushy, greasy), ge ing no exercise, wearing clothes that don’t t and always exhausted from lack of sleep. Now, how do you feel? You see your - 10 - e Practical Guide To Exceptional Living health and weight immediately a ect you mentally as well as physically. Most people don’t get this. The biggest reason I work out ve to six days per week, eat a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, limit any kind of prescription drugs, drink plenty of water, try to sleep at least six-plus hours every night, quit chewing to- bacco a er 25 years, and try to stay as close to my ideal weight as possible is simple. Why? I want to live as long as possible. Have you ever thought about this? How long do you want to live? One of my sisters was killed at 19 in an alcohol-related automobile accident. My mom was a heavy smoker and died at age 53 from cancer. It is heart- breaking to think of all of the things they missed because of poor choices in lifestyle: so many birthdays, ball games, dance recitals, grandchildren, weddings, baptisms, family gatherings, sunsets, and adventure. I want you to think long and hard about your current lifestyle. Will you be here to see your children mature and grow old? Will you be here to watch them raise their families and pursue their dreams? Will you be here to enjoy and support them? Be honest with yourself. Are you going to make it to see the grandkids? Or are you going to be gone from this earth because of poor health brought on by poor choices. How is your health? Achieving the life of your dreams will require energy. You should want as many extra years as possible to enjoy. You are also going to need the self con dence that comes with looking and feeling your best. Here are a few statistics to think about: – The average American female lives to be 77 years old, the average male 73. - 11 - Are You Living the Life of Your Dreams? – Smoking cigare es can take an average of 10 years o of your life. – Being overweight by 20-30 pounds can take an extra ve years o of your life. – According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Con- trol), heart disease is the number - one killer in America. One person dies every minute from a heart a ack. – Being overweight by 20-30 pounds can increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other weight related diseases. Obesity (being more than 20% over your ideal body weight) greatly increases the risk. – The average male exercises 1.5 times per week and the average female 1.1 times per week. Sixty minutes of exercise ve days per week is recom- mended. How Are Your Relationships? Those who have achieved great things in life most likely have not done so by themselves. They have had the help of many di erent relationships, usually involving a spouse, business partners, work colleagues and friends. You need support from a variety of people, and that requires you to maintain healthy relationships. How are your relationships? Are they caring and loving and supportive? Do they give you inspiration and energy or do they drain you of your energy? Are they lled with anxiety and stress? Are they antagonistic? If you are married or have a signi cant other in your life, this is the most important relationship to help you - 12 - e Practical Guide To Exceptional Living achieve the things you want in life. You must constantly work at this relationship through the inevitable disagree- ments, arguments, good times and bad times. It will get stronger as you go. What I nd with many people is that they don’t understand how much you need to work on a relationship. The couples I have seen that are the hap- piest are constantly communicating with each other, not always agreeing, but constantly communicating. This is critical, especially in a day and age when there are so many distractions. Relationships take time, commitment and most of all patience. What was the last thing you said to your spouse before you le today? When was the last time you showed up with owers or a gi for no reason? When was the last time you told your spouse how beautiful or handsome they were? We o en forget these simple ges- tures because “life” tends to get in the way. Work, email, the kids’ schedules and many other commitments occu- py our time. As I said earlier, one of the rst steps is that you must look at how you truly spend your time. A er you do this, you must rst schedule time for yourself, your family and your spouse. Then think about friends, old and new. Call them, email them, or invite them for dinner. Go out of your way to be loving and kind to the people you care about most. My wife o en reminds our children, “We are here on earth for one reason and that is to help others and make others feel good.” I remember the rst time she said this, and I realized that I had never looked at it like that. If everyone went out each day with this philoso- phy, can you imagine how your relationships with all - 13 - Are You Living the Life of Your Dreams? those around you (including complete strangers) would change? The purpose of our relationships is to help oth- ers reach their highest potential and to nurture one an- other to reach our goals. We also need others to be around us to give us a sense of worth and a reason to rise each day. We need that sense of camaraderie as humans. Remember this as you leave in the morning to go to work and you look into the eyes of your spouse or children or you wave to your neighbor. We need a connection to other human beings. When you think of the people you have relation- ships with, think about what you can do for them, not what they need to do for you. And by doing this, you will nd that they will help you along the way to create the life you want. How Is Your Faith? My faith is a big part of who I am and is an important part of my relationship with my family, especially my children. Your belief is what it is. If your belief is strong, I encourage you to nurture it. If you have no belief or very li le, I encourage you to try to discover it. My faith in God and the strength that faith gives me has allowed me to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles and taken me from a place of fear and failure to a place of absolute joy and success. My faith in God gives me the strength to be a loving father and husband, business owner, friend, and good citizen of this great country. My belief has helped me through the deaths of a sister and both of my parents. It has provided me strength when my business was on - 14 - e Practical Guide To Exceptional Living the verge of going bankrupt and was under siege from a lawsuit. And most of all, God and my belief in God bring me great joy on a beautiful spring day when all is going perfectly. When I look at my beautiful family and all of the joy that nature and my many friends bring, who else can receive the credit but God? I want you to give great thought to your faith and what it means to you and those around you. We will dis- cuss gratitude and faith to a greater degree in Chapter Three. For now, answer the question, how is your faith? What Is Important to YOU? To design the life you have always wanted or to make any positive change in your life you have to know what is important to you. Many people will say that their family is important to them, but then they will work 80 hours per week and not spend time with their family. Or someone will say their health is important, but then they will not do anything to support good health. So, what is important to you? Is it the accumulation of toys and possessions or is it the accumulation of experiences that you share with those around you? I used to struggle with this until a good friend of mine posed a question to me one day. I now call it the Christmas Gi Question. As I talked with my friend David Allen, describing the book I was writing, we discussed a struggle I was having. I explained to him that I had a lot of ambitious business goals and like to own nice things and have the ability to travel, but that was causing a strain on my family and my relationships. The con ict I faced was the choice between spending time with my family and - 15 - Are You Living the Life of Your Dreams? pursuing my business goals. With that, he hit me with the following question: it is what I call The Christmas Gi Question. “Tell me one gi you remember ge ing for Christ- mas each year as a kid from the age of ve to een,” David said. I stammered for a moment, not being able to think of any, and then I did manage to remember ge ing skis one Christmas when I was probably about seven and the football game with the guys that would vibrate up and down the eld and the eld goal kicker that you hit on the head. That was all that I could clearly remem- ber over ten years of Christmas during my childhood. Then he said, “Describe the vacations and experienc- es you and your family shared each year from the age of ve to een. What were some of the adventures you had?” Instantly my memory was triggered and a whole host of things came back to me. I started to describe all of the great experiences I had as a child growing up in Alexandria, VA: The summer trip my family made in a Winnebago down the east coast, the trips to our condo at Fenwick Island, DE, camping trips to Cave Moun- tain Lake, VA and the Great Smokey Mountains, trips to visit relatives in Roanoke, VA, the Riverside Hotel in Gatlinburg, TN and staying in the tree houses at Disney World. It was all so vivid and clear. I told him about my dad coaching baseball and my mom being the den mother of my Cub Scout troop. I could have talked for hours about all of the experiences I had growing up. Thanks to David it then became crystal clear. Life is about the experiences we have along the way not about the accumulation of things. Life is about the ex- - 16 - e Practical Guide To Exceptional Living periences we share with our families and other loved ones. This in a broad sense has become my mantra: Live as long as possible in order to share experiences with the people you love being around! When you think about this, it is so simple. Isn’t this what you want? (If it isn’t, close this book and go get your money back!) Think about what has been important to you in your life. Has it been about the accumulation of things or has it been about the expe- rience? Which is more important to you? What changes do you need to make? The purpose of this chapter has been to get you think- ing about your life and what it has become up to this point. As we get older and our commitments expand, our creativity decreases and our dreams somehow begin to fade into the background. The next two exercises are designed to get you thinking BIG again. These exercises are the rst steps, the building blocks, in the journey to design or redesign the life of your dreams. Ultimate Life Experience™ What is your Ultimate Life Experience™? What is the one thing you have always wanted to do or the one place you have always wanted to visit? It may be a trip around the world, sur ng in Indonesia, going to Lon- don to watch Wimbledon, traveling to Korea to visit rel- atives, going to the World Series, or maybe organizing a family reunion that brings together hundreds of family members. Right now, I challenge you to consider your Ultimate Life Experience™, write it down and include steps needed to achieve it. Whatever it is, I want you - 17 - Are You Living the
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